Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy. Send your ‘Getting Deep’ questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
MY STEP-DAD PRETTY MUCH RAISED ME (WITH MY MOM) AND I HAD NEVER MET MY REAL DAD BEFORE THIS SUMMER, BUT THEN SUDDENLY HE CAME BACK AND WANTED TO “GET TO KNOW ME.” MY FIRST REACTION WAS “HELL, NO,” BUT THEN I STARTED TO GET CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT HE’D BE LIKE. AND NOW, I KNOW I WANT TO AT LEAST MEET UP WITH HIM A FEW TIMES AND SEE HOW IT GOES, BUT I AM AFRAID THAT IT WILL HURT MY STEP-DAD’S FEELINGS. HOW DO I LET HIM KNOW THAT I MIGHT WANT A RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS STRANGER-DAD, WITHOUT IT SEEMING LIKE A KNIFE IN THE BACK?
I think it’s very thoughtful of you to consider your step-dad’s feelings in advance. You really can’t predict how he will feel until you talk to him, and explain your thoughts and your reason for wanting to know what your biological father is like. Right now, you really don’t know if or what kind of relationship you will want with your biological dad, so perhaps your conversation with your “step” Dad right now is more of an acknowledgement of what you think you would like to do. You can then keep him posted after you meet your birth dad. It’s actually often common to see “step-parents” being quite open and understanding of their children’s need to know and even have a relationship with their birth parents. I’m sure that your dad is quite an amazing person who wants the best for you!
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, AT A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT PARTIES, I TRIED SMOKING A BIT, WITH FRIENDS, JUST FOR FUN AND TO BE SOCIAL AND STUFF—NO BIG DEAL, I THOUGHT. NOW I CRAVE ONE EVERY TIME I SEE SOMEONE LIGHT UP. I DON’T WANT TO BE A SMOKER, BUT IT SEEMS TO BE EVERYWHERE. IS THERE AN EASY WAY TO JUST FORGET ABOUT IT AND NOT BE TEMPTED?
If your “circle of friends” are mainly non-smokers it certainly is a bit easier to avoid cravings. Consider if what you are experiencing is truly a psychological craving or simply a behaviour (which is potentially becoming a habit) that allows you to feel comfortable in the company of friends in social situations. Having something to do, a common activity that unites you with others, is often a driving force behind new habits and behaviours we become attached to. Your bigger decision lies in whether you want to allow a simple behaviour (smoking) to turn into a full on addiction. If you don’t want to be tempted you might be better to spend more time doing other equally fun things with different people.
MY SISTER HAS LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT. AT FIRST, EVERYONE (INCLUDING ME) KEPT COMPLIMENTING HER ON HOW GREAT SHE LOOKED. BUT NOW SHE IS A LITTLE TOO THIN. I WANT TO ASK HER WHAT SHE’S DOING TO LOSE SO MUCH; I THINK IT MIGHT BE AN EATING DISORDER. HOW DO I BRING SOMETHING LIKE THAT UP? OR, AM I JUST OVERREACTING?
Asking the question(s) you really want to ask is so much more helpful than continuing to simply wonder. You might want to ask your sister how she feels about her weight loss and her overall health as one way of better understanding what her thoughts are of herself. It will also give you clues as to whether she is dieting in a healthy way or simply taking her weight loss to an extreme. Either way, asking questions without being judgmental will help you to know what is really true.
I STARTED DATING THIS GUY AND WE HAVE SO MUCH FUN TOGETHER, BUT MY FAMILY THINKS THAT HE’S TOO OLD FOR ME. I’M A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL AND HE’S IN GRAD SCHOOL, SO THEY JUST ASSUME THAT HE’S USING ME. MY FRIENDS THINK IT’S PRETTY COOL, BUT SOMETIMES THEY TEASE ME ABOUT HIS AGE. WHAT IS THE LIMIT ON HOW MUCH OLDER YOU SHOULD DATE SOMEONE?
I think it’s often misleading to put an age limit on someone you are dating. Maturity, common interests, belief systems, shared values and mutual respect are better indicators of how compatible you are with another person than strictly age. You have to feel comfortable with your relationship from the perspective of it adding to the quality of your life, the authenticity of the other person and the respectful way that they treat you. If you feel confident about the sincerity of your feelings toward one another, I hope you’ll continue to have fun! But it doesn’t mean that you have to necessarily have all the answers lined up about where the relationship is going just yet!
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com